The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

The Tell-Tale Heart book cover
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Why did the narrator of "The Tell-Tale Heart" kill the old man?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Poe's classic short story "The Tell-Tale Heart " is told by an unreliable narrator, who is clearly mentally unstable. There are numerous clues that suggest the unreliable narrator is insane, which include his continual insistence that he is not "mad," his staccato writing style, and his "sharpened" senses that allow him to hear paranormal sounds. Toward the beginning of the story, the narrator mentions that he had no ill will toward the old man and actually loved him—another example of his insanity. After reading this statement, the reader cannot help but wonder how someone could murder a person they love. The narrator goes on to say that he was not motivated by money to kill the old man and was simply disturbed by the old man's "Evil eye." The insane narrator explains his reason for killing the...

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Kelvin Brakus eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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